This month I will highlight three of the brands that feature in the new mag, starting with Bells.
"Several fine whiskies blended together please the palates of a greater number of people than one whisky unmixed," so wrote Arthur Bell in 1863.
In fact Bell's is a blend of 47 single malt and grain whiskies, the heart of which is Blair Athol single malt.
Blair Athol Distillery, situated in the picturesque village of Pitlochry, is the spiritual home of Bell's and is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, founded in 1798.
Arthur Bell & Sons acquired the distillery in 1933 and today the company is owned by Diageo which has consolidated Bell's as the N0.1 blended Scotch, not only in the UK but also South Africa.
BELL'S EXTRA SPECIAL BLENDED WHISKY 43%
Whiskies aged between 3 and 5 years.
On the nose there is vanilla and fruit with the grain thumping in the background.
The palate initially pretty much reflects the nose but then spiced chilli hits the mid-palate and then a delightful pervading smokiness that lingers on the finish with a hint of walnuts. 82
Enjoy this with a dash of water (10mls), poured over ice or if you have a sweet tooth mix it with ginger ale. Pairs well with cheese snacks.
BELL'S SPECIAL RESERVE BLENDED MALT 43%
The single malts aged for a minimum of 8 years.
The nose has rich fruits embalmed with a splash of Oloroso sherry, smoke weaving its tendrils through the dark fruit concoction.
Oily and smooth on the palate, the rich honeyed fruits are almost overwhelmed by the peppery spice and peat smoke but by any measure this is a beautifully balanced blended malt. 85
This dram is best enjoyed with just a splash of water. This whisky nicely pairs with red meat dishes and milk chocolate fudge truffles.